Ralph Pagano was a contestant on Season 1 of Hell's Kitchen. He was on the blue team. He was the runner-up of that season.
Ralph was a very nice chef with his teammates, and slightly overpowering. He was a natural leader, so when Michael switched to the red team, he decided to take over the role of leader of the blue team. He was also having a hot temper, especially when he was losing challenges numerous times in a row. His natural leadership abilities made him participate in the first ever finals of Hell's Kitchen.
Season 1 Edit
Ralph was the fifth contestant to have his Signature Dish judged by Ramsay. He served a seared tuna with hot and cold noodles, and was humiliated by Ramsay when he told him he was number one at his restaurant. After the challenge, he was placed in the blue team, along with Mary Ellen, Wendy, Jessica, Michael, and Andrew.
During dinner service, Ralph was assigned as a waiter. He was not very happy about it, as he claimed that he would be a better help in the kitchen than in the dining room. After one hour, one of his tables, who did not receive any appetizer, was so angry that they got up and talk to Ramsay about the problem, only to get called "bimbos" and shut down by him. When these ladies returned for the second time, they were asked to get back to plastic surgery by Ramsay, and left the restaurant. After many tables walked out, Ramsay shut down both kitchens, and declared the blue team winners. However, Ramsay added that they did not win, and that they were just safe. Ramsay also said to him that he did a great job in the dining room as a waiter, despite the tables walking out.
After a brutal wake up call the next morning, all the contestants were told to get down to the dining room, where Ramsay explained the next challenge, which was the Cleaning Squid Challenge. Ralph gave one of the best individual performances of his team and overall with 2 clean squids, but the blue team lost the challenge 5-6. They were punished by cleaning all the squids for the next dinner service.
During dinner service, as the second part of their punishment, the blue team cooked without air conditioning. Because Wendy was struggling on the appetizer station, Ralph came to her help, sent out acceptable risottos, and was praised by Ramsay for his teamwork. After Ramsay shut down both kitchens because Jean-Philippe was physically assaulted, he declared the blue team winners as they managed to get a few main courses out.
Following Dewberry's elimination, Ralph stated even though he was already missing him, he did not feel sorry for him, explaining that he walked off the line, and that in any restaurant, anybody who would do this would get fired immediately.
Before the 5 Course Meal Challenge, Ralph and his team said goodbye to Michael, who has just been transferred to the red team. During the challenge, at the grocery store, he thought about bacon with 30 seconds left, so he threw it in the shopping cart with less than a second to go. Because of Michael's departure from the blue team, he became the leader of the team, much to Andrew's annoyance. He served a roasted corn chowder as a hot starter. His dish was deemed nice by Ramsay, and he scored for his team. Later, he was accused of having the idea of the disgusting rib-eye with white peaches that Andrew served, which was confirmed to be true, in a flashback. Because of this poor combination, the blue team lost the challenge after a tie-breaker at 3, and were punished by cleaning the dorms.
During dinner service, Ralph was on the dessert station. He showed great teamwork when he gave help to Jessica, who was asking for some. After witnessing this, Ramsay praised his efforts and his teamwork. Hours later, he gave help to Wendy when she was lost on the meat station. She gave ten minutes for the lamb to be cooked, but he corrected her by giving five minutes, much to Ramsay's relief. He helped her to get the lamb ready for the critics, who gave mixed reviews. Moments later, he slipped and fell to the ground. After tables walked out, Ramsay shut down both kitchens and declared the blue team losers. However, Ramsay praised his work ethics and named him "Best of the Worst". He was asked to nominate two members of his team for elimination.
Following elimination, Ralph felt the need to have a serious talk with Andrew, who has just survived elimination. He told him that he had to check his big mouth and ego if he wanted to go far in the competition.
During the Perfect Table Challenge, the blue team managed to make only one mistake, compared to the red team's four. They were rewarded with a day of relaxation and spa treatment in the dorms.
Minutes before the first tables entered, Ralph was worried because Andrew was still feeling insecure about the garnishes for the dishes, so he took white tape and wrote down all the right garnishes to go with the right dishes for Andrew to remember.
During dinner service, Ralph was on the meat station with Jessica. The first Wellingtons that she brought up were accepted by Ramsay. After a lot of struggle by the blue team, they were not able to complete their tickets before the red team did, which made them the losing team. Jessica was named "Best of the Worst".
He was not nominated for elimination.
Prior to the challenge, when Ramsay asked Ralph who he thought is the strongest link on the blue team, he named himself in that position, and also named Andrew as the weakest.
During the Pasta Making Challenge, Ralph was rolling the machine to make the dough to the correct thickness, and put the pasta on Andrew's arms. The blue team lost the challenge, managing to get only 2,41 lbs of pasta acceptable, compared to the red team's 2,45. They were punished by making all the remaining pasta for the next evening's pasta themed service. He took this loss very hard, as it was his third challenge loss of a possible four, and never went outside the restaurant since his arrival. He also accused the red team of cheating.
During dinner service, the blue team served during the first seating, and cooked during the second. During the first seating, Ralph was confident as he had service experience. At the end, he received positive critics from his customers. When he got back in the kitchen for the second seating, his confidence level was high, but was concerned about being down a man compared to the red team. Andrew and him had a heated argument before service, because he accused Andrew of not paying attention and not listening to people. When the second seating started, a lot of orders of lasagna kept coming in, which made him realize the red team was trying to sabotage the blue team. After Jessica and Andrew served what Ramsay called "dog's dinners" to the hot plate, Ramsay decided to shut down the kitchen, with 17 tickets to go, as the time limit of two hours was over. The blue team was declared winners because of their good service in the dining room, and their food of better quality than the red team's.
After Chris' elimination, Ralph was still surprised by this unexpected decision. He learned the lesson that it was not because he had more experience than anybody that he could be less careful, and that anything can happen.
Before the challenge, Ramsay told Ralph that he was disappointed with his performance on Pasta Night, and now that Chris was gone, he would have to step up his game, just like everybody else. During the Blind Taste Test, he did not manage to score a single point after missing veal sweetbreads and spinach. The blue team lost the challenge 1-4, and had to wash the entire restaurant's dishes.
The night before the next service, Ramsay announced that both teams would create their own menus. While creating their menu, Ralph took total control of the blue team, even eclipsing one of Andrew's idea of a braised salmon, for a poached halibut.
Before service, as the second part of the punishment, the blue team's baby chickens were in the pantry room that was locked. Ramsay gave the combination once to get them, and when Andrew got it on the first attempt, Ralph celebrated.
During dinner service, Ralph was on the dessert station. He told Jessica to lend a help on Andrew, who was struggling with the halibut dishes. When those dishes came back, Jean-Philippe told him and Andrew that the fish was overcooked and tasteless. When some female customers waved at him because they found him cute, he waved back, infuriating Ramsay. After that incident, Ramsay shut down both kitchens because too many orders came back. The blue team was declared losers after Ramsay told he was not there to flirt, and was accused of having the terrible idea of the poached halibut by Andrew. He responded by telling it was a group effort, and Jessica was named "Best of the Worst".
Ralph was not nominated by Jessica, but was eventually nominated by Ramsay. Despite the fact that he did not admit that the halibut dish was his idea, he survived elimination.
After surviving elimination for the first time, Ralph had a late night talk with Jessica. She told him he deserved to be there.
Before the first individual challenge, Ralph was the first to receive a black jacket. During the Tableside Fruit Flambé Challenge, he forgot the dust and sugar on his fruits. He lost the challenge, and had to clean the entire dining room ahead of the next dinner service.
During dinner service, Ralph was on the appetizer and plating stations. He got the team off to a good start by sending many starters. When he went to the pass for plating, power went out in the restaurant, but only for a few seconds. Hours later, he received praised from Ramsay for his work on the plating station. After that, he was asked to help Jimmy, who was struggling on the fish station. After a heated argument between Jimmy and Ramsay, the kitchen was shut down. However, Ramsay praised him because of his strong performance after being pushed around a lot during the last couple of weeks, and named him "Best of the Worst". Back in the dorms, Elsie tried to convince him to nominate her because she felt home-sick, and Jessica tried to convince him not to nominate her, as she felt he owed him one after not being nominated by her the previous week.
From now on, Ralph thought the game officially begun, and he knew that he could not trust anybody but himself.
During the Leftovers Challenge, Ralph made a sauté of chicken drumsticks with thyme sauce. Ramsay told him his presentation was spot on, but the fact that he got raw onions spoiled his dish. He lost the challenge to Elsie, and was so jealous that he wanted to taste her chicken soup. He was punished by prepping the kitchen ahead of that night's service. During prep, he got to see Elsie's appearance on "Good Day Live", which infuriated him even more. Michael, Jessica and himself made a conspiracy in which they would leave Elsie aside if she was to need help during service.
During dinner service, Ralph began on the meat station. After one hour, Ramsay made the whole team switch stations. He moved to the fish station, and the first dish he sent to the pass was accepted by Ramsay and went out to the dining room. At the second switch, he moved to the garnish station. When many tables walked out unfed, Ramsay shut the kitchen down, and nobody was safe. Ramsay declared he would come with his own decision.
He was not nominated for elimination.
When Ralph was told by Michael to get in the blue kitchen with his jacket on at 4 am, he did not believed him for a second. But, when Sous Chef Scott came in the dorms himself, he knew it was true. Ramsay asked the final three to make bread because the baker was not able to provide the restaurant with bread. Michael and him got most of the job done by baking the bread, and sent Jessica to sleep because she would be more of a hindrance.
Four hours later, Ralph went back to sleep for two more hours, before being woke up by Sous Chef Mary-Ann playing a triangle. Ramsay explained the Perfect Soufflé Challenge, and during the judging, Ramsay praised the taste of his soufflé, while adding it would need a little bit more egg whites. Despite that, he was declared the winner of the challenge. Because of that, he got to choose his main ingredient first for an exciting dish that would be served during the next service, and eventually chose beef.
During dinner service, Ralph was on the garnish station. In addition to manage his station, he was responsible for preparing his dish. Him and Michael served a lot of entrées to the dining room, and his filet mignon received great reviews from customers. When the last ticket came in, he served the last main courses and joined Jessica, with Michael, on desserts, and completed them, marking the first time in the show's history a fully-booked dining room was served. His filet mignon dish was the most popular out of the three dishes.
At elimination, Ralph was visited by his fiancée, his mom and his uncle. After each member of each family got to reveal the dish they enjoyed the most, he finished in second place with three votes for his filet mignon. Therefore, he became one of the two finalists, along with Michael.
After Jessica's elimination, Ralph got to enjoy some special time with his family. After a late night talk with Michael on the patio, the next morning, he answered the phone in the dorms, and answered "Bonsoir!" to Ramsay. Ramsay told him to get in the dining room in two minutes with Michael.
Ralph, along with Michael, had a little chat with Ramsay, where the latter announced the final test. After the chat, he stood on the blue side of the restaurant, and a huge white blanket fell from the ceiling. Ramsay announced that he had to design his dream restaurant, with the help of John Janavs, the architect of Hell's Kitchen, Jean-Philippe for the service, and Sous Chef Scott for helping with the menu. During the redesign, Janavs told him that only half of the wallpaper he needed came, so they had to get a shipment from Pennsylvania at the airport that night.
For the final challenge, Ralph made a Porto house steak for two as his signature dish. He got on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with Ramsay and Michael, so that customers can taste both dishes. During the challenge, when he saw he was losing, he started to panic and became a salesman, even one customer stating that he liked him more as a person, despite liking Michael's dish better. He lost the challenge 6-12.
When he returned to Hell's Kitchen, Ralph got great news from Janavs who said his wallpaper arrived and the redesigning was in good progress. He was satisfied with those news. He returned to the kitchen to work on his food, and after that, Ramsay announced a practice service, where Michael and him would run the hot plate. On Michael's first ticket, he had trouble understanding the order because Michael was not talking loud enough. When it was his turn at the pass, he seemed already very confident and started to take food out of the kitchen very quickly. His confidence and charisma was praised by Ramsay, but he failed to spot Michael's sabotage, which was crab risottos without crab. He was also calling Jean-Philippe "Jean-Pierre". When a risotto came back, he tasted it and told Michael about his supposed mistake. After service, Ramsay was not impressed and told him that his quality control was poor. Later, he thanked Michael for this because he felt it made him stronger. When both him and Michael got back to the dorms, he laughed when Michael was mimicking Ramsay.
The next morning, Ralph got down in the dining room, and got very satisfied when he saw the progress of his new restaurant. Janavs told him the wallpaper problem has been solved. Because he lost the final challenge, he was forced to have the last pick when choosing his brigade. His first pick was Andrew, followed by Wendy, and was left at the end with Dewberry. During prep, he made a list of rules for his team to follow. Jean-Philippe came to his kitchen, and asked him, who called him "Jean-Pierre" once again, to come to the dining room to meet his dining room staff. He named his restaurant "Frank & Lulu's", referring to his dog's name, and his friend's dog's name.
An hour and a half before service, Ralph lost a man as Andrew was rushed to the hospital after a minor injury. He told Ramsay about the situation and declared that because of that, he would run the pass and the garnish station at the same time. Ramsay was not a fan of that idea, but both of them went to the dining room to see his restaurant and staff. When seeing the uniforms, Ramsay said the women looked like grannies. Minutes before opening, he was relieved when Andrew came back, and gave him a high-five. After, he received his head chef jacket, and briefed his team.
Moments after the doors opened, Ralph and Michael gave each other a big hug. During dinner service, he got off to a bad start because he had to leave the hot plate for several minutes to come and help Wendy, who was struggling on the appetizer station. But, he managed to have a tableside salad appetizer as a backup plan. An hour and 15 minutes into service, his appetizers were well received by the customers, and he started to send out entrées. But he could not make that happen because of Dewberry, who was almost passing out. After Dewberry left the kitchen, he talked with Sous Chef Scott about that problem, worried that Dewberry would not make it through dinner service. Jean-Philippe also told him that despite the food being great, the service had to go faster. When Dewberry came back in the kitchen, he was holding the list of rules to follow and made Dewberry recite them to help him bounce back, with success. Three hours into service, he was sending the last of his main courses, and started to send out desserts, with every customer being happy. When the service was over, he shook Jean-Philippe's hand and gave a big kiss to Dewberry.
During the post-mortem, Ramsay declared to Ralph that all his customers were from New York as he wanted a New York Steakhouse. Him and Michael got back to the dorms and waited for Ramsay's decision. Then, both of them got to Ramsay's office, blindfolded, guided by the Sous Chefs. Arrived in Ramsay's office, he stood in front of a door, knowing that it would open only if he was the winner. After waiting nervously for Ramsay's countdown to end, he turned the handle, but his door did not open.
Ralph became the runner-up of Hell's Kitchen, and took his defeat graciously by celebrating Michael's victory with everybody else.
Nomination history Edit
Season 10 Edit
- He participated in the first ever all-male finals of Hell's Kitchen.
- He is the first runner-up, and first male runner-up of Hell's Kitchen.
- Season 10 contestant Royce Wagner was one of his employees at one of his restaurants, the STK South Beach in Florida.
- After his appearance on the show, he became a celebrity chef and hosted many tv cooking shows. He opened a lot of successful restaurants in Miami, Florida, such as Naked Taco, Naked Lunch and Naked Tiki. He also competed on "Iron Chef America", where he lost to Iron Chef Bobby Flay, in the battle of barramundi.
- "This game ain't for everybody."